Share Nutrition Tips and Love for Learning with Grandkids
Giving to grandchildren doesn’t have to involve money or gift-wrapped packages. As the grandkids head back to school, consider sharing nutrition tips or a love for lifelong learning, said Malisa Rader, a family life program specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. These types of gifts, along with taking an interest in children’s school activities, can contribute to their success in school.
Grandparents sometimes are blamed for spoiling their grandchildren with sweet treats, but introducing new foods is a way to support parents’ attempts to expand food choices, Rader said. Offer grandchildren small portions of a new food and gently encourage them to take a taste. If they try it, make a positive comment and move on to another topic so new foods are not a big issue.
“Make mealtimes a happy event by making children aware of your expectations. Be specific about what they can and cannot do while eating. Serve small helpings and allow children to take seconds. Appetite will then govern the amount of food eaten and less food will be wasted. The amount of food children eat can vary drastically depending on their activity, growth spurt and what they have eaten in the past few days,” Rader said.
“Talk to your grandchildren about school," Rader continued. “Know what your grandchild’s activities are and ask specific questions. The child will know you are interested and respond accordingly.”
Participate in grandchildren’s school events when possible, Rader said. Visit the school website to learn about school activities and policies.
“When your grandchildren do something you are proud of, praise the effort and tell them why you are praising them. That way they will know what specifically they did so they can repeat it in the future. Look for other activities besides sports to praise children. You might write a special note or invite your grandchild on a special outing in recognition of his or her effort,” Rader said.
Grandparents can be role models for their grandchildren, Rader said. “Read with your grandchild, visit the library together, cook together or take a class on a topic that interests you. Show your grandchildren how you can learn from mistakes and continue learning even outside of school. You will be demonstrating the importance of lifelong learning.”
Children learn by thinking about future plans, and grandparents can help children decide on small steps to reach their goals, Rader said. “Let them know you support them and acknowledge their attempts to achieve their goals. You can demonstrate how to be confident and relaxed in this type of activity.”
By using these strategies in collaboration with the children’s parents, grandparents can contribute to their grandchildren’s success, Rader said. “Making that connection will be gratifying to both you and your grandchild.”
Find more information to help children succeed in school in the Dare to Excel newsletter (PM 3013), available for free download from the ISU Extension and Outreach Online Store.
Malisa Rader is an ISU Extension Family Life Program Specialist housed in the Hamilton County Office. Her education and experiences in the field of early childhood and parenting education have developed her passion to empower and strengthen the well-being of children, families, and the communities in which they live. You can reach her at (515) 832-9597 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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